Three new whitebeam species found at Cheddar Gorge

Three new species of whitebeam tree have been discovered for the first time by scientists at Cheddar Gorge in Somerset.

Scientists took samples from the trees and used DNA techniques to identify them as new species. Sat nav (GPS) technology was also used to record the precise locations of these rarities, helping to relocate them in the future.

This was the first time that the Cheddar Gorge had been surveyed specifically for whitebeams.

Eight species of whitebeam were recorded including the three new species.

National Trust Somerset Countryside Manager Mark Courtiour said: "We always wondered what whitebeam rarities might be lurking in the gorge as it's such a stunning place for wildlife. This important survey work will help with our management of the site now we know what we have and where they can be found."

Welsh National Herbarium head of vascular plants Dr Tim Rich added: "These discoveries show that we're still learning about the natural world and finding new species of plants in the UK. Cheddar is a very special place."

The three new species of whitebeam are:

  • Cheddar whitebeam (Sorbus cheddarensis) — with oval shaped leaves this tree can grow to at least 7m high. At least nineteen of these trees were found.
  • Twin cliffs whitebeam (Sorbus eminentoides) — with roundish leaves these trees can grow to around 9m with greyish brown bark. Fifteen of these trees were recorded.
  • Gough's Rock whitebeam (Sorbus rupicoloides) — with long narrow leaves these trees grow up to 7m. Thirteen of these trees were found here.

 

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